From the very beginning of our children’s lives, we are encouraging them to take the next step (literally and figuratively). Persuading our young babies to try their first foods, say their first words, and take their first steps. It’s a natural part of raising a tiny human. They don’t come with instruction manuals, as we all know, and sometimes navigating how to parent each individual child can be a struggle.
As an early education teacher, a previous nanny, and as a new mom, I felt like I was pretty equipped to do this whole ‘parenting gig.’ But then my son got older. He started going places, meeting new friends and doing real, big kid stuff. I felt like I was slowly losing my grip on having it all under control. Just before his third birthday, we completely uprooted our little family and moved to a new state. I chose to stay home with my son as we settled into our new house, new state, and new lives.
Being home with my son has been wonderful for both of us. But ever so slowly, I noticed myself change. I was more anxious in situations that never would have bothered me before. I was overly concerned with everything my son did – big or small. It sucked the fun out of things. I had too much time on my hands to scroll social media, talk to other moms, and overthink the smallest details of life.
All it took was hearing another mom say two tiny words for me to realize I was overthinking everything, and it was time to approach life differently. It happened recently at a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates. The piñata had just been ripped open, and kids were losing their minds over the brightly colored candy that peppered the green grass. One of the little girls came bolting over and starting going through her bag of treats next to her mom. I was standing next to this mother/daughter duo and watched the young girl taste several pieces of candy while my son was still combing the yard for goodies anyone might have missed.
The young girl pulled out a brightly colored small package and showed it to her mom and asking, ‘Mommy, what is this one?’ Her mom casually looked down at the candy package being shoved in her face and said, ‘Wow, those are super sour! Try it!’ and gave a playful smile to her daughter, then continued on with the conversation she was having. I was dumbfounded. She was an amazing mom. My words would have sounded a whole lot different, something along the lines of “oh, I’ll hold on to that one. It’s too hard. It’s too sour. You wouldn’t like it. You might choke.’ And I was immediately ashamed of myself. It was clear I had watched one too many morning news stories and clicked on one too many devastating articles on social media, and that I had let fear and worry take over my parenting style.
But with that mom’s words, a change came over me. Of course, she should have said ‘try it!’ That’s what we should do as moms. Encourage our children. Let them take control once in a while. We should not let fear or worry dictate how we live our lives or how we parent these tiny humans. From now on, I’m going to be the one saying ‘try it.’